Strickland Road Historic District
The Strickland Road Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2010, The Gombach Group.
The Strickland Road Historic District is a small residential area in the Cos Cob section of the Town of Greenwich. It is located between the Boston Post Road (U.S. Route 1) on the north and Interstate 95 on the south. The majority of the resources are located on Strickland Road, with a few related properties on the adjacent Loughlin Avenue.
The Strickland Road Historic District contains 37 resources, of which 28 (75%) contribute to its historic character and were built between 1740 and 1934, the period of significance of the district. Two non-contributing primary buildings are a 1947 Colonial Revival style house (8 Loughlin Avenue) and a modern but compatibly designed barn-type building which houses the headquarters of the Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich, Inc., one of five buildings on this property (39 Strickland Road). The main building on this property is the Bush-Holley House, a Dutch Colonial built about 1740 which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The remaining non-contributing buildings are secondary structures, such as garages, built after the period of significance.
Strickland Road was laid out from the Post Road to Cos Cob Harbor at least by the early eighteenth century. The path and width of this road to the Lower Landings as the area was called at that time, has not changed.
Major changes have taken place outside the Strickland Road Historic District boundaries. These include the construction of Interstate 95, particularly the elevated section of the approach to the Mianus Bridge immediately south of the district. An eighteenth-century millpond created by a tidal dam at the mouth of Strickland Brook on the west side of Cos Cob Harbor still exists and partially forms the eastern boundary of the district. A post-World War II housing development on Mill Pond Court, also not included in the district, is located adjacent to this pond on the east side of Strickland Road.
The residential development of the Strickland Road Historic District is demonstrated by the distribution of the contributing resources over time: four (14%) built in the eighteenth century: eleven (39%) in the nineteenth century, and thirteen (46%) after 1900. These include 23 houses and one store built in a variety of architectural styles, ranging from the Colonial, through the Federal, Second Empire, Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Bungalow/Craftsman, and Tudor Revivals.
Although the Strickland Road Historic District is primarily residential today, historically its buildings have also been used for commercial purposes on a limited basis. The merchants of the Bush family operated the family mercantile trade out of the Bush-Holley House in the eighteenth century (39 Strickland Road). The David Bush Store on the adjoining property to the west is presently vacant, but has been used for residential purposes after its period of commercial use, and as a post office from about 1899 to 1920. Several other houses had a commercial function during part of their history, such as the Ephraim Lane House (34 Strickland Road). In the later nineteenth century this building housed a millinery.
All but three of the buildings are of wood-frame construction, set on brick or granite foundations. The exceptions are a combination of brick and stucco vernacular houses built in 1934 and influenced by the Tudor Revival style (38, 40 and 42 Strickland Road).
The houses range in height from 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 stories with varying setbacks from the street line. The setbacks generally correspond to the period of construction with the earlier houses sited closest to the road. The distance from the road became progressively greater through the last half of the nineteenth century, followed by more moderate setbacks in the early part of the twentieth century. Several examples of the earlier traditional siting are the 1749 Captain James Waring House and its neighbor, the circa 1820 Ephraim Lane House, and the 1784 David Bush Store (30, 34 and 43 Strickland Road). Another case in point is the Brush-Wilmot House, an unusual example of the Federal style. Not only is it sited close to the road, it has a high basement with flushboarding on the facade at both grade and the first-floor (36 Strickland Road).
A preference for the deeper setbacks is shown by the streetscapes of the southwest side of Strickland Road and the sole example of the Italianate style (9 Strickland Road) in the district, located just behind the commercial properties on the Boston Post Road. The larger, more stylish houses of the Victorian period, such as the Brush House, designed by an architect in the Second Empire style were located even further back from the road (31 Strickland Road).
By the twentieth century, more moderate setbacks were customary in the Strickland Road Historic District for the vernacular examples of the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles (23 and 10 Strickland Road). The Bungalows built between 1919 and 1927 and concentrated at the north end of the district are uniformly sited a short distance from the street (3 Loughlin Avenue; 13, 15, 17, 19 and 35 Strickland Road). Historic residential development was complete in 1934 when several Tudor Revival inspired brick and stucco cottages were built and sited at a slight angle to the street line at the south end of the district. Undoubtedly, their pastoral setting next to the Mill Pond contributed to this less formal orientation to the street (42 Strickland Road).
The Strickland Road Historic District is architecturally significant as a small cohesive, residential community distinguished by its architectural variety and excellent state of preservation. It reflects the historical development of the Village of Cos Cob in the Town of Greenwich from 1740 to 1934.
The Strickland Road Historic District encompasses much of the area known as the Lower Landing, one of two major maritime distribution centers in Cos Cob Harbor in the eighteenth century. It was first settled by men of Dutch descent who bought land set aside as common land by the town. Chief among these was David Bush (formerly Bosch), a wealthy merchant who was largely responsible for the mercantile development of Cos Cob in the eighteenth century. He traded with New York and ran a tidal grist mill in the area (no longer extant). His house, the Colonial centerpiece of the district, displays Dutch architectural influences in its construction (39 Strickland Road). Among these are the use of yellow brick and the distinctive rounded fireplace backs.
The Lower Landing flourished as a port well into the nineteenth century, attracting other tradesmen and merchant captains to the area. Captain James Waring built his Colonial/Federal house in 1749 at 30 Strickland Road. Ephraim Lane, a blacksmith, built his Federal style house next door at 34 Strickland Road. Visitors to the port shopped at several stores of various types, including a millinery shop run by Lane's daughters out of their house. The store built by David Bush in 1768, one of at least two in the area in the nineteenth century, eventually was the site of the local post office (43 Strickland Road). The Brush family, who are well represented in the district, were also involved in the maritime trade, George Brush as a sea captain (31, 35 and 37 Strickland Road).
Although packet boats continued to operate from the Lower Landing through most of the nineteenth century, the importance of the port as a transportation center waned after the railroad became established in Greenwich. As the locus of commercial interest shifted to Greenwich Avenue, today's central business district for the town and the location of the early railroad depot, the district reverted almost completely to residential use, a process that was completed by the burning of the tidal grist mill in 1899.
A corresponding lull occurred in residential development in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Only one house was built at this time, a modest Italianate near the Post Road (9 Strickland Road). A resurgence in residential construction occurred around the turn of the century, with four houses built in this period, mostly in several versions of the Queen Anne style. In the twentieth century, houses were more likely to be mass-produced, a phenomenon reflected on Strickland Road, albeit to a modest degree. Of the 14 houses built in the district between 1899 and 1934, the majority are Bungalows constructed after 1914. Both the Bungalows and the slightly later Tudor Revival style cottages built in 1934 reflect the exclusive residential use of the district by that time.
Distinguished by its variety of styles, forms, and siting, and enhanced by its excellent level of preservation, the Strickland Road Historic District during its 200-year history reflects the changing patterns of residential development common to the Northeast. Despite this esthetically pleasing diversity, the district is cohesive, tied together by its predominantly residential historic function, and limited by its size. The physical barriers that establish the boundaries of the Strickland Road Historic District, some unfortunate and man-made such as the elevated Interstate 95, and others such as the millpond which adds a rural charm to the area, have not only confined development there, but have defined a contiguous, readily identifiable historic residential community. Its rural residential quality is enhanced by the winding pattern of Strickland Road, which is shaded by mature trees, and the proximity of some of the older houses to the road.
Some of the earliest houses in the Strickland Road Historic District are of particular architectural significance. Generally Federal in style, each is a unique example, but they share some notable architectural features. Several have flushboarding on the facade, a detail more commonly associated with the Greek Revival style. These include the exceptionally fine Brush-Wilmot House, with its unique high-basement configuration, the David Bush Store, and the Ephraim Lane House (27, 43, and 34 Strickland Road). This feature is displayed across the entire first level of the facade of the latter building, which suggests that its pedimented open porch may be a later addition, possibly a replacement for an earlier full-facade porch. The Lane House shares other similar features with the Brush-Wilmot House, especially the narrow sidelights on the side-hall main door.
The individually distinguished Second Empire Brush House (31 Strickland Road) set the stage for the increasing variety of styles in the district in the Victorian period. Its present appearance is possibly the result of a 1970s restoration, especially the Georgian Revival style features such as the quoining and the pedimented central window at the second floor. The configuration of the facade fenestration, in particular the tall first-floor windows, suggests that this house may also have had a facade porch.
Several groups of houses built in the Strickland Road Historic District in the late Victorian period are important as representative well-preserved examples of their respective types or styles. They include the vernacular Queen Anne and Colonial Revival styles built by the turn of the century. All of them are well preserved and each one is an individual expression of its style, such as the Queen Anne at 23 Strickland Road.
The stuccoed Bungalows, which are influenced by the Craftsman style and were popular in the district after World War I, are another distinctive group clustered at the north end of the district (3 Loughlin Avenue; 13, 15 and 17 Strickland Road). Nearly identical in the use of exposed rafter ends, central eyebrow dormers, and hipped roofs, these houses have exceptional architectural integrity.
Clarke, Elizabeth W., ed. Greenwich Historical Collections. Historical Society of the Town of Greenwich, January, 1970.
"Report of the Historic District Study Committee with Respect to the Creation of an Historic District in the Strickland Road Area of Cos Cob, CT."
†Jan Cunningham, Consultant, and John Herzan, Connecticut Historical Commission, Strickland Road Historic District, Greenwich, CT, nomination document, 1989, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.